Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands

Masterful renovation and expansion – the new Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam is one of the most iconic buildings in the Netherlands. After ten years of extensive renovations and expansion, an entirely new museum concept has emerged, which places the museum’s world famous collection of Dutch art and history into a new and exciting setting.
Originally designed in the 19th century by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, the historical museum building has been redesigned for contemporary use by the Spanish architecture firm of Cruz y Ortiz. The building has been given a light and open feeling. By following the axiom of “respect Cuypers’ ideas and carry out the work in his spirit”, collection highlights were brought to the fore and reinterpreted within the space utilisation concept. Restoration of original Cuypers decor, such as the wall and ceiling ornaments of the library, were carried out under the artistic direction of the architecture firm of Van Hoogevest Architecten.
The facility was expanded with a spectacular atrium, a public pedestrian and bicycle passage, the Asian Pavilion, a service building and a new ‘greenbelt’. Old and new buildings stand independently side-by-side, yet form a unique synergy while retaining their individuality.
The modern electrical installation installed throughout the entire complex relies on the timeless LS 990 range of switches from JUNG. The puristic elegance of their clean lines, with narrow frames and a large operating surface, merges seamlessly into the stylish ambience of the Rijksmuseum.
Parisian Jean-Michel Wilmotte was responsible for the interior design of the galleries. By combining the magnificent 19th century design and contemporary restraint, the interiors blend harmoniously into the overall architectural concept.
The former courtyards of the main building were transformed into an impressive new entrance foyer – the atrium. The wide span of the glass roof and the Portuguese natural stone flooring, which reflects the natural daylight, create a bright and airy atmosphere. Pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy the new public passage under the atrium, which leads directly through the museum and offers a freely accessible, multi-functional space.
The solitary structure of the new Asian Pavilion imparts the parallelism of the existing buildings, while its skewed footprint and sloping roof give rise to endless, three-dimensional views depending on the angle of observation. The façade materials of the pavilion reflect the natural stone of the atrium floor and work in harmony with the historic stone façade of the older building. The new building, which houses works of art spanning 2000 BC to 2000 AD from China, Japan, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Thailand, is accessible from the main building via a connecting corridor.
The second solitary building of the complex is the receiving and service building. With a sharply angled footprint, the building draws on the sculptural appearance of the Asian Pavilion. It houses the visitor’s entrance as well as all internal access. Despite its modest size, it has become the logistical heart of the entire facility and provides a connection to the unground passage- and supply-network.
The Philips Wing, which has been shaped over the years by a wide range of reconstruction measures by various architects, was stripped down to its original form and transformed into a contemporary exhibition wing, in line with the design concept of the main building. An atrium at its centre provides access to the adjoining exhibition galleries from its central location. The wing houses world-class, special exhibitions.
The existing gardens, along with their classical statues, have been restored and are now home to a water artwork by Jeppe Hein, a 19th century-styled greenhouse where ‘forgotten’ vegetables are grown and a playground with artistic play structures designed by Aldo van Eyck.
Pictures: Erik Smits
Pictures: Vincent Mentzel
Pictures: Rijksmuseum

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